On Second Thought: An anti-German plot?

lucy naland for the boston globe

Is a jealous cabal trying to torpedo the work of German researchers? So claims Frank Sauer, a former biochemist at the University of California at Riverside. The German-born researcher has been found guilty of misconduct for manipulating images in papers (some now retracted) and grant applications. In his defense, Sauer told the US government that nefarious agents sabotaged his results as part of a plot “to achieve the discontinuation of all gene-technological work in Germany with all available methods.” But Leslie Rogall, an administrative law judge for the US Department of Health and Human Services, wasn’t buying. (It didn’t help Sauer’s case that the notary’s seal and signature on a letter that he produced as evidence appeared to be forged.) Ultimately, Rogall found that Sauer’s claims of conspiracy “push the extreme limits of plausibility and credibility.” She also upheld a ban that prevents Sauer from receiving federal grants until 2020, which gives him plenty of time to uncover the plot.